tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC January 7, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST
"this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. >> fire and fury. >> i never interviewed with him in the white house at all. he was never in the oval office. >> president trump and his team fire back at the explosive new book. >> it's complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip. >> it's a damning portrait of a white house in chaos. is trump's inner sickle questioning his capacity to serve? michael wolff is also facing fallout. and -- >> everything i have done is 100% properly. that's how i do things. properly. >> robert mueller now focused on obstruction of justice. how strong is the case? did the president defend himself under oath? how will the gop counterattack on the investigation color the case? those questions ahead for preet bharara. the former federal prosecutor
fired by trump. plus, after taunting kim jong-un about the size of his nuclear button. >> without my rhetoric and without my tough stance, they wouldn't be talking right now. >> the president opens the the door to talks with north korea. the latest from u.n. ambassador nikki haley. and martha raddatz from south korea. we'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week. good morning. to anyone who thought president trump's second year might be a bit more relaxed than the first. two words. fire and fury. that title of the blistering new best seller about the trump white house also describes president trump's response to the book. which has intensified an extraordinary debate. captured this morning in headlines across the country and around the world. does president trump have the mental stability it takes to handle his office? >> a guy that doesn't know me. doesn't know me at all. by the way, did not interview me.
he said he interviewed me for three hours in the white house. that didn't exist, okay. it's in his imagination. >> reporter: president trump at camp david on saturday, calling "fire and fury" a work of fiction. >> my credibility is being questioned by man who has perhaps less credibility than anyone else who has ever walked the earth to this point. >> reporter: the seismic claims have shaken the white house. and broken his relationship with the former top strategist. >> did steve bannon betray you? any words about steve bannon? >> i don't know. he called me a great man last night. so he obviously changed his tune pretty quick. >> reporter: bannon's quotes jump off the pages of "fire and fury." with unvarnished attacks on trump and his children. don jr. is treasonous. ivanka, dumb as a brick. comments that earned bannon a new nickname from trump. >> sloppy steve is now looking for a job. >> reporter: the book reports trump and his campaign were shocked by a win they never expected. and in the white house portrayed by wolff, president trump is woefully unfit for the job.
one staffer said working with trump is like trying to figure out what a child wants. others inside the white house thought he was no more than semiliteral. calling him an idiot and a dope. >> according to your reporting, everyone around the president, senior advisers, family members, every single one of them questions his intelligence and fitness for office? >> let me put a marker in the sand here. 100% of the people around him. >> reporter: the book has drawn a full-throated denial from the white house podium. >> it's disgraceful and laughable. if he was unfit, he probably wouldn't be sitting there. wouldn't have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the republican party has ever seen. >> reporter: and saturday morning, trump took matters into his own hands. with an early morning tweet. my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. calling himself a stable genius. then the press conference at camp david. >> only because i went to the best colleges.
or college. came out, made billions and billions of dollars. became one of the top business people. went to television and for ten years was a tremendous success. as you probably have heard. ran for president one time and won. >> "roundtable" here to take it on. joined by chief political analyst matthew dowd. democratic strategist stephanie cutter. who was a senior adviser to president obama. chair of the american conservative union, matt schlapp. roland martin from tv one. and republican strategist, sara fagen, strategist with president george w. bush and now with cnbc. every president hit by a book like this. usually by bob woodward. not this time around. what is your big takeaway? and how much can we trust? >> speaking as a genius -- um -- i have three that -- there's so many. i have three. first, i'm not a huge fan of michael wolff and the style of journalism that that entails. i think that the problem with that style of journalism is,
it's -- it's evidenced by celebrity. talks about the tawdry stories. and all that. i don't think it adds to the discourse or helps us move forward as a country. that being said, he paints a broad picture. take the little stories out of it. with insiders who have not denied they have said all the things they have been quoted as saying of something that some republicans on the record, and many republicans, most republicans off the record have said. that there's a question about the president's temperament. serious questions about his mental acuity. can he handle the office? all of the stresses of the office? it's confirmed those things that have been talked about for a year. and i think the third thing, fundamentally, the president only made matters worse in what he's done. all the tweets and everything have basically confirmed everything michael wolff has said. >> you hear him put out the tweet, stable genius. it's like richard nixon, i'm not a crook. >> yeah, e mean, he handled it in the worst possible way by adding to it. he should have just blown it off
and discredited the author, who discredited himself by being sloppy, and let it go. donald trump can not do that. there's a great lesson for anyone wanting to run for president. be careful who you surround yourself with. donald trump, one of his biggest mistakes was surrounding himself with people who didn't have his interests in mind. steve bannon clearly looks out for steve bannon. that is the worst possible chief strategist to put in the white house. >> matt schlapp, let me take this to you. you had steve bannon at the c-pac conference. i remember that early back in 2017, when he was riding quite high. is he done now? >> no. i don't think he's done. i think he's marginalized his voice. most republicans want a big, long break from him and his brand of politics. i think the issues behind him still animate the republican party and the conservative movement. i want to agree with sara on this. they staffed up the white house. you could see it. in the most incomprehensible way
with people that did not have the president's best interests at heart. quite frankly, they were not experienced. they talked way too much. didn't have a strategy behind it. i think the person who realized it the quickest was the president. he said, i don't think this is working. i think you have to give general kelly credit. >> the white house seems to have changed operations under general kelly. let me take that point to stephanie cutter. on the one hand, yes, these are staffed by the people not with the president's best interests at heart. one of the things you see in this book, the president's daughter and son-in-law had outsized influence. >> absolutely. we knew that before the book came out. we know what kind of problems that presents in a white house. we have in some way, shape, or form, been inside the white house. >> because we have all been influenced by those relatives. let's face it. >> it is an extremely disruptive to a well-functioning white house. i think the other takeaway, yes,
the -- that white house lacked a team ready to go that was loyal to the president. but, they had a very hard time finding people who would go in the white house to work for this president. and think that created an unv t unvirtuous circle. >> i don't think that is true. >> the book makes it worse. >> the central insight in the book is they didn't think they were going to win from the president on down, all through the campaign, and heading into the early days of the white house, they acted like it. >> all true. bottom line is, this book changes nothing. i read 250 of the 350 pages last night. bottom line. simple. everything he laid out, we already knew. in terms of the kind of people who he chose. the fact that you don't have principles. you don't have morals. you don't have ethics. what you have is a republican party with different pieces. they get exactly what they want from donald trump. you have white conservative evangelicals. they don't care about how he's treated women.
all they want are federal judges who will get rid of same-sex marriage and abortion. folks on the business side, you get the tax reform. folks who are all about the social issues, they get -- everybody gets what they want. this comes down to power. the republican party, they want all those folks, they want power. donald trump provides that. and so as long as he's there, and they can get what they want, it doesn't matter. this book will not change a thing. and i'll give the last point is this here. you look at the fact that democrats forced out senator al franken and congressman john conyers. have republicans forced out texas congressman blake fairhold? no. this is about power. >> it raises questions about the president's fitness. a lot of the anecdotes. let's say 50% are true. >> i think that is probably the right number. >> it raises serious questions about -- >> maybe 90. >> -- his mental capacity. his ability to process information, his impulse control. >> it does. it doesn't matter.
it's not going to matter until and unless something catastrophic happens as a result of a tweet or a provocation to another national -- international leader. until that happens, i don't think most of america is paying much attention to this conversation. >> let me just respond to this question about his fitness for office. maybe more than anyone on the panel, i deal with him. have dealt with him for years. i actually enjoy it, roland. >> we'll pray for you. >> as personal as you want to make it and say, oh, he's cuckoo for cocoa puffs. you embolden him. my interactions, he doesn't repeat these stories. he totally gets the policies. unlike a lot of politicians. what people don't get about donald trump is he asks you 20 times more questions than most politicians. most politicians talk at you. yammer on. donald trump is the opposite. he wants to bring you in. he wants to get the information you have. i find that this coverage. he did a whole chapter in the book, michael wolff on c-pac. never called anyone. he never called me.
his facts are wrong from top to bot m. he said wilbur ross was the secretary of labor. john kelly was the director of homeland security. another man has that job. he was the secretary of homeland security. when it came to c-pac he got fact after fact after fact wrong. and he didn't even bother to call. look, there might be some truth in here. but this is a europe list who didn't believe in calling anyone to verify sources. >> donald trump. and the trump supporters like matt. even if i gave him truth serum. i know what he would say. >> i'll tell you right now. >> about the level of integrity that he holds the office to. the idea that donald trump and them would castigate this author for not being truthful is like al capone saying a jaywalker is a criminal. the level of credibility. >> they're made for each other. >> they're not only made for each other. one is the king of it. the other is a pauper in this. i would say this book is not about palace intrigue. though all the stories -- as i said, i don't agree with this type of journalism.
i don't like it. fundamentally, the core kernel of the story questioning donald trump's fitness to hold the office. it's been done by people on the left, people in the media, people that don't like him. it's done almost universally by nearly every republican official when you talk to them off the record. >> when you get what you want, it doesn't matter. and that's part of the issue here. you look at the different people within the party. as long as they get what they want, donald trump serves a very unique purpose. he has no ideology. no convictions. no morals. no principles. i mean the fact of the matter is -- >> the other part of the story here. we can debate michael wolff's book. there are lots of factual inaccuracies. which is part of the problem here. it paints a picture that we have seen for a long time. and it's been painted by main stream media, and republicans. so, it's not hard to believe, the reason we're talking about it so much is it's not hard to believe.
but the bigger issue here is, if we do have a president who -- has some fitness issues, even though he says he's, like, really smart. there are problems happening. and roland, i understand what you're saying, but the bigger issue is, can we have a functioning government with somebody like that in the white house? up until now, you could argue yes. you're starting to see craters in that. >> we'll talk about that impact. i want you all to stand by. you're going to come back later in the show to get into that. right now, to the latest on north korea. this week, kim jong-un made a surprise announcement saying he would engage in talks to take part in the upcoming olympic games with the neighboring south korea. and just days after taunting the north korean leader over his nuclear button, president trump talked about direct talks of his own. >> i would love to see it go far beyond the olympics. absolutely. and at the appropriate time, we'll get involved. >> to follow up, are you willing to engage in talks with kim jong-un right now? >> sure. i always believe in talking.
>> and we'll take that to u.n. ambassador nikki haley after this report from our chief global affairs correspondent martha raddatz from south korea. >> reporter: this is south korea today. not what you may imagine in a country under the threat of nuclear war. an ice-fishing festival. hundreds of families enjoying this clear, cold sunday morning. just miles from the border with the north. in the middle of this icy fishing paradise, the idea of fire and fury is never far away. the kind donald trump warned kim jong-un he could face. overhead, attack helicopters make a quick pass over the ice. a reminder. south koreans are well aware of everything donald trump has been saying and tweeting. it was immature of him to say his nuclear button was bigger than kim's, this man told us. i feel less safe with him as president.
despite the criticism, there is great anticipation about tuesday's meeting between representatives from north and south korea. which will take place in the so-called truce village. where north and south korean soldiers stand just feet apart. the armistice that suspended the korean war was signed here in 1953. the topic this tuesday will be limited to the north's participation in the olympic games. as we journeyed further north today, past the artillery pieces lining the roadside, the barbed wire. the barriers. everyone we talked to agreed with trump on one issue. that tuesday's talks were a positive sign. this woman is 75. she lives with other korean war survivors. she remembers as a child passing dead bodies as she was fleeing with her family.
i know trump goes overboard, she says. but sometimes you need that to be strong. and aggressive. and unlike any president before him, donald trump faces a prospect of nuclear war with north korea. and kim jong-un is every bit as aggressive and unpredictable as trump. and, back in seoul now, where there is also optimism about tuesday's meetings. tempered by the realization that they are very narrow in scope and the nuclear threat is far from over. george?
>> thank you, martha. we're joined by the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley. thank you for coming in. >> thank you. >> i want to pick up on the president's press conference where he opened the door to the direct talks with north korea. he said in the past it would be a waste of time for secretary
tillerson to talk with north korea. why the turnaround? >> there is no turnaround. he's said, yes, there could be a time where we talk to north korea. a lot of things have to happen before they take place. they have to stop testing. they have to be willing to talk about banning nuclear weapons. those things have to happen. we're trying to make sure we don't repeat what's happened the last 25 years. them start to act like they're coming to the table. them ask for a lot of money. and then cheat their way through. we're going to be smart this time. make sure whatever happens makes the united states safer and that we denuclearize the peninsula. >> it's one thing to stop testing for now. it's another to say we'll get rid of the nuclear arsenal. both conditions are necessary for the u.s. to talk? >> no, i think stop testing is very important. and for a significant amount of time. and then you go and you work towards the next step. this is going to be phases. it is not going to happen overnight. it's a dangerous situation. >> what do you expect from tuesday's talks? >> i think two countries can talk if they want. they'll talk about the olympics. it's not my understanding they'll talk about anything further. those two countries have to get along. it's good for the united states
if they can at least start getting back into talks. so i think that's a good thing. >> last week, admiral mike mullen talked to martha. echoed this week by joe biden. vice president joe biden. both saying they believe the u.s. is closer to nuclear war with north korea. do you agree? >> it's a dangerous situation. it's not something we want. we have said that multiple times. the president has said it. every member of the administration has said it. but the reality is, this is a very dangerous situation. >> did the president make it worse with the tweet about the nuclear button? here's what former vice president joe biden said. >> when we engage in activities like let's compare the button. they all, for different reasons and different motivations, lose confidence in us. they wonder, do we know what the hell we're doing? >> is he right that it hurts our credibility with our allies? >> they don't wonder what the hell we're doing. it's very clear that we do. we're not going to let them go
and advertise the fact that they have a button on the desk that they can destroy america. we want to remind them, we can destroy you, too. so be very cautious and careful with your words and what you do. i know it make people nervous, if we didn't do it, we would be in a more dangerous -- >> you think the tweet is a good idea? >> i think he always has to keep kim on his toes. it's important to not let him get so arrogant that he doesn't realize the reality of what would happen if he started a nuclear war. >> you have republicans in congress saying this is reckless. cory gardner. john cornyn. >> everybody is going to have their opinion. what i can tell you is i'm dealing with the diplomats on the ground. i'm dealing with all of the actors in this situation. it's a serious situation. and he can't sit there and imply that he's going to destroy the united states without us reminding him of the facts and the reality that if you go there, it's not us that's going to be destroyed, it's you. >> you deal with the diplomats on the ground. you deal with diplomats every
single day. world leaders from all around and across the globe. how do they respond overall to the president's tweets? i read one analysis this week saying they're starting to tune them out. >> i don't think they're tuning them out. if anything, they're glued to them. they see him as unpredictable. that's probably the overwhelming feeling. >> too unpredictable? >> i don't think so. i think they don't know what the u.s. is going to do at any given time. for that reason, they're getting more kushs. cautious. it's not a bad thing. it's really not. >> a lot of the questions, reinforced by the book that came out this week. the michael wolff book. in your dealings with the president, he says 100% of the people around the president are concerned about his fitness. have you seen any behavior that concerns you? >> the one thing about the book. having been governor. now an ambassador, i'm always amazed at the lengths people will go to to lie for money and for power.
it's really -- this is like, taking it to a whole new low. i will tell you. i have not read the book. i won't read it. the excerpts i have seen and the things i have seen in the press, i know those people in the white house. i'm there once a week. these people love their country. and respect our president. i have never seen or heard the type of toxic language they're talking about. i'm not there seven days a week. i'm there once a week. and i'm there for a day with white house meetings and everything. no one questions the stability of the president. >> except that michael wolff says he has 200 interviews. he says he has interviews on tape. we know he spent a lot of time in the white house over the course of the first several months. and a lot of the most damning anecdotes have not been denied by those involved. >> i can't vouch for that. i can't say if it was 200 interviews with steve bannon. 200 interviews with himself.
but i can tell you, i know these people. i work with these people. i work with the president. speak with him multiple times a week. this is a man, he didn't become president by accident. and as much as everyone wants to talk about stability, was he unstable when he passed the tax reform? was he unstable when we finally hit back at syria and said no more chemical weapons? was he unstable when we finally put north korea on notice? was he unstable when he said, wait, we need to look at iran because this is getting to be a dangerous situation? was he unstable with the jobs? or the economy or the stock market? we need to be realistic of the fact that, every person regardless of race, religion, or party, who loves the country, should support this president. it's that important. >> you're not concerned that those close to the president don't have his interests at heart? >> i'm around them all the time. i see these people put everything they have got into their jobs. and into respecting and trusting the president. if they didn't, they wouldn't be there. >> thank you for your time. >> thank
you. up next, as the mueller
investigation focuses on obstruction of justice, president trump says it's making the u.s. look foolish. will he make the case directly to mueller? what's next in the investigation? we'll take up the questions with preet bharara and dan abrams. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ what we do every night is like something out of a strange dream. except that the next morning... it all makes sense. fedex powers global commerce
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don't want looking foolish. >> president trump yesterday on the mueller investigation. let's talk about that with former u.s. attorney preet bharara. now a distinguished scholar at nyu school of law and our legal analyst dan abrams. preet, let me begin with you. you heard the president say, again and again, there is no collusion, even though mueller is still doing all his work. more evidence this week that the special counsel very focused on this idea of obstruction of justice. both "the new york times" report about the dealings between don mcgann, the white house counsel, and jeff sessions. and some of the revelations in michael wolff's book. >> if you believe the reports, there's a continuing saga of information that would lead you to believe that mueller and his team are looking at other things that paint a picture of potential obstruction. the interesting thing about the report you refer to, in "the new york times," was one aspect of it was that apparently, and reported reportedly, the president asked his white house
council, don mcgann, as you said, to encourage jeff sessions not to recuse himself. >> why can't a president do that? >> that by itself is not necessarily criminal. it's unhelpful. it makes him look bad. you have to consider the reason why he didn't want people to look at -- the reason for that is, that doesn't get talked about as much, is that presumably, the president wanted to be protected by a loyal attorney general. not to protect the process of law. but to protect him from the due process of law. that's not right. over time, if you have enough instances of things that show that the president wanted to end the russia investigation. and this is just a piece of it, you start to find yourself building -- >> it has to be pattern of behavior. one of the quotes in the article is the president railing with his staff, where is my roy cohn? >> if that's true, that's a
horrible thing to look back on. he means i want someone to protect me, if he said that. but remember, there are two avenues here. there's number one, was there collusion with russia? is there a possible conspiracy charge? and number two, is this a possible obstruction of justice? the notion that this has somehow been resolved. collusion. for the last year, it's been proven, shown, we know it didn't happen. i don't know where that is coming from. how do we know? we don't know what mueller knows. we don't know what mueller is going to conclude. >> we know he's gotten a plea agreement from george papadopoulos. >> yes. you have that piece. and then the second piece is this possible obstruction. again, we don't know that robert mueller is going to conclude that there was obstruction. we don't know that at all. but of course he's going to be looking at it. of course he's going to be investigating it. you have to view it as a puzzle, as preet is saying. you look at these different pieces, and you say, if you put
these together, does that tell a story of corrupt intent? to influence the investigation? >> let me bring that to preet. if you look at the various pieces. there are so many of them. "the new york times" article about the discussions with don mcgann and jeff sessions. all the discussions in the white house. before james comey was fired. and the president talking about how he wanted to fire james comey. all those discussions in the white house where the president helped write a false statement about his son don jr.'s dealing with the russians. back in the campaign. you're a former prosecutor. you add all that up. you see just what we know has been reported. would you need to talk to the president about that? >> generally speaking, when an investigation is overt as opposed to covert. in this case, there's no more investigation in the history of the world, perhaps. everyone knows what is happening. the lawyers have said they want to meet. the president's lawyers want to meet with special counsel mueller. generally speaking, before you make a decision about this, if you're buttoning everything up,
crossing every "t," dotting every "i," usually, you have a high-profile potential target, yeah, you talk to that person. usually close to the end. now, the president doesn't have to talk. i imagine the president will talk because that's what he does. >> the president will talk. that is a perilous decision for the president and his lawyers. >> i don't think he can do it. i don't think that the president can sit down with mueller's team and answer these sorts of questions. why? because he's opening himself up to other possible crimes, right? if he gets in there and they determine he isn't telling them the truth about certain things, again, it doesn't have to be about the fundamental questions as to russian collusion. it can be about almost anything. he's opening himself up to the possibility of additional federal charges. i think that that -- i think he will say, maybe i'm wrong. i think he'll say, my lawyers have told me. i want to be in there. i want to talk. and i believe that by the way. i believe donald trump wants to be in there and talk to them.
i have to believe that his lawyers will tell him not to. do you disagree? >> what i believe is is that the president doesn't listen to his lawyers. the president -- a gentleman who is a stable genius, he tells us, was listening to his lawyers, there's lots and lots of stuff he would not have said, done, tweeted. >> sure. >> here's a person who wants to defend himself. he does it through the platform of twitter on a daily basis. and he said he wants to talk to the special counsel's office. if they make the request, or say we're available for you to talk us to, it seems untenable not to do it. >> let me flip it. what does the special counsel do if the president refuses to talk to them? >> they go on their merry way and decide to make a case or not make a case. i don't think it matters all that much to them, depending on what kinds of things they're looking at. usually there are two reasons you want to talk to target close to the end. one is to afford them the opportunity, them and their
lawyers, to explain to you why you may have it wrong. we did that all the time. people think prosecutors have a blunderbus approach. it's an open and notorious thing that prosecutors are doing, you give them the opportunity. why did you say this? why did you do that? why don't you give us your explanation? it may be the case, as dan says, absolutely correctly, that you can fall into a trap if you decide to speak and lie about it because you think you're charming enough to harmonize the disparate facts and circumstances. that's a principle reason you talk to them. another avenue to further the investigation. in a case like this, they're going to have all the facts that they have. they're going to be interested in wanting to hear from the president if he wants to talk to him. >> we'll see which one of you are right. up next, are we headed to a government shutdown? over trump's border wall. that debate ahead with senators tom cotton and bernie sanders.
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senators bernie sanders and tom cotton are standing by. and all week long, you can get the latest on politics and the white house with breaking news alers on the abc news app. download it during the break. kelly! we're out of body wash! what are you doing?? i thought you had a cold?? i don't need all this.
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except that the next morning... it all makes sense. fedex powers global commerce with vast, far-reaching networks... deep knowledge of industries... and, yes... maybe a little magic. ♪ we want the wall. the wall is going to happen or we're not going to have daca. we all want daca to happen. but we also want great security for our country. >> that was the president talking yesterday at camp david. talking about daca. those are the children of undocumented immigrants brought to the united states. will they be protected or not? the president says there has to be funding for a border wall. let's talk about that now with senator bernie sanders and senator tom cotton. both in the middle of the issue right now.
i want to start with senator sanders, with you. you heard the president there, not daca without a border wall. you said some kind of daca protections have to be included in the bill to keep the government open in late january. does that mean we're headed for a government shutdown? >> george, as you know, the republicans control the white house, the senate, the u.s. house. they'll determine whether or not there is a government shutdown. or not. and i certainly hope there is not a government shutdown. it would be a disaster for the country. but when you have a president who says, who precipitated this crisis back in september by revoking the daca provision, and now we're in a position where some 800,000 young people. young people raised in this country. young people in school, working in the u.s. military. now are living in extraordinary anxiety about with whether or not they're going to lose legal status and be subject to
deportation, this is what the president precipitated. we have got to deal with that decision. what we have got to do, it seems to me is to pass the dreamers legislation that provides and protects legal status. to these young people. later on we have to work for comprehensive immigration reform. american people want that. 77% of the american people in a recent poll suggested they want to see legal status for the young people. the american people don't want to spend billions of dollars on a wall which trump told us would be paid for by the mexican government which is, of course, not going to be paid for by the mexican government. >> is there any compromise on the wall? in the past, democrats have voted to double the size of the border fence. to about 700 miles. is there a compromise that can be worked out? where you have increased funding for a fence. the president can call it a wall. and the democrats get daca proe teks?
>> i don't think there is anybody that disagrees we need strong border security. if the president wants to work with us to make sure we have strong border security, let's do that. but the idea of spending some $18 billion on a wall that most people think will not do what he says it will do, does not make any sense. and by the way, george, when we talk about a government shutdown, the other thing that concerns me is that senator mcconnell, now wants to do away with the concept of parity, which is what we have had in four budget agreements since 2011. and what that means is, they want to spend $90 billion, $100 billion in the next couple of years on the military. but they're ignoring the needs of the middle class. ignoring the needs of veterans. ignoring the needs of the people about to lose their pensions. these guys, the republican leadership, unbelievably, has not reauthorized the c.h.i.p. program for 9 million children in the country in terms of health care or the community health program.
we have to get priorities right. giving tax breaks to billionaires. throwing millions of people off health insurance is not what we should be doing. we have to pay attention to the working families of this country. we have to protect their health care. make sure that young people are not leaving school deeply in debt. fund the social security administration. 10,000 people died last year who are with disabilities because they didn't get the kind of attention they need in processing their claims from the social security administration. that concerns me as well. >> sounds like there's a wide gap between republicans and democrats. it's a couple of weeks from the possible shutdown. i want to ask you about the concerns raised by the michael wolff book. this week. and the president's response this week. saying he's a stable genius. do you have concerns -- i saw you raise your eyebrows. do you have concerns about the president's mental stability?
are you going to sign on to the pending legislation about an oversight commission on the president's ability to handle the job? >> i'm not going to -- look, what bothers me about this president is no so much what he says. but he's so offensive. i mean, just a few weeks ago, he attacked a united states senator with sexual innuendo. he talks about prison for his former opponent in a presidential election. this is not what presidents of the united states do. but i am more worried about what this president's policies are in terms of telling the working people of this country, during his campaign that he was going to stand with them. and yet, he governs now as a representative of the billionaire class. tax breaks for the wealthy. cutting people off of health insurance. ignoring the needs of children. not dealing with the
prescription drug crisis in the country that he said he would deal with. i worry about him being a pathological liar. those are some of the concerns i have. >> senator sanders, thank you for your time. want to bring to it senator tom cotton. republican of arkansas. you heard senator sanders call the president a pathological liar. you have seen the quotes in the michael wolff book, as well. but it's not just those questions that are been raised this week. in the past, your colleagues, like senator corker, has challenged his stability. lindsey graham called him a kook. some are suggesting that behind closed doors, those sentiments are shared by a lot of senate republicans. is that true? >> george, first off, thank you for having me on. it's a very common occurrence in washington to have these tell-all books hit with big effect. in fact, you wrote one about the clinton administration. the difference is, your book was accurate. this book is written by a new york gossip cloumist.
columnist. looseness with the truth is an elemental thread of the book. the media made similar claims about presidents bush and reagan. they all have in common they are republicans. when i have been around president trump, he's been active, engaged. and an event -- effective leader. leading the fight against isis. turning the economy around. >> you worked with the president this week on immigration. you heard senator sanders talk about the democrats' demands on daca and the border wall. they won't go along with the border wall. the president says that's a bottom line demand of his. is there a way to solve the problem? >> i hope so. the president has said all along that while president obama acted unlawfully giving legal status without a ruling from congress, we have been working on this. in addition to funding, we have to take steps against unskilled
and low skilled immigration. coming into the country. like ending chain migration. ending the diversity lottery. one of the unheralded accomplishments of the first year of the trump administration that gets overlooked with the growing stock market, for instance, is that wages for people who work with their hands and their feet, the kind of jobs where you have to take a shower after you get off work not before you go to work have increased at the fastest pace yet. there's a reason for that. it's not just the growing economy. it's that this administration is getting unskilled and low skilled immigration under control. we need to continue on those efforts while finding a compromise on those people brought here as young children and young adults through no fault of their own. i hope the democrats will come off their unreasonable negotiating position and be willing to compromise. >> but you saw that response this week. it wasn't just senator sanders on the program right now. senator dick durbin. his reaction to the $18 billion for the border wall. he's saying it's a nonstarter.
not close to a compromise at this point, are we? >> well, george, as you rightly said, those are democratic demands. not as they're often portrayed as republicans only make demands, democrats negotiate. and senator durbin's dream act would cost $26 billion according to the congressional budget office. senator durbin should reconsider who is making unreasonable, costly demands. the southern border creates such a huge magnet for illegal immigration and crime and drugs. >> are we going to have a government shutdown at the end of january? >> i don't expect to have one. i don't want to have one. but if the democrats want to shut down the government because they can't get amnesty for illegal immigrants, they'll have to defend that to the american people. they didn't do that last month. i suspect they didn't do it because they know that amnesty for illegal immigrants without any real reform is unpopular. >> let me ask you about north korea. you saw the president's tweet about the nuclear button.
ambassador haley says it shows the president is forthright and strong. and the north koreans are getting that message. are you hopeful about the talks between the north and south koreans this week? >> george, my understanding is those talks on tuesday are primarily about the upcoming south korean olympics. i don't know if they'll go beyond that. we'll see what the south koreans have to say when those talks are over. but, president trump's statement didn't come out of the blue. kim jong-un is the one that raised the issue of a nuclear button in his new year's day speech. for 25 years, we have sat around and allowed the kim regime to make any kind of threats they want against the united states. donald trump's statement reiterated a point of strategic deterrence. we don't allow other countries to hold us at risk when our arsenal is the largest and the strongest in the world. >> there is talk that the president might ask you to join the administration as the cia director. are you open to that?
and we're back with "the roundtable." want to pick up on the conversations with the senators. sara, let me begin with you. because it seems like so much is going to happen in the month of january that could determine the whole course of 2018. from listening to those two senators, it seems to me that we're headed for a government shutdown in a couple of weeks. >> well, i hope not. because i think that will be very problematic for republicans, since we control the house, the senate, and the presidency. having said that, there is a need to get daca done. there's broad bipartisan consensus that something needs to get done there. to me, it's a recipe to put together a spending package and a broader immigration package. the president may have to back
down. not get as big of a wall or some structures. as opposed to an entire wall. but there is a formula for this to get done. for it to be, for frankly all the criticism of trump, and his fitness of office, to get through january and get tax reform. a huge piece of obamacare repealed. and significant immigration reform, that's a pretty good record. >> that will be the question, matt. is either side looking for a win-win here? or not? is the president willing to take a wall that's not a wall? are the democrats willing to let him call something a wall that they don't think is a wall? >> as we have discovered over the course of the last few weeks and said by the majority leader, the president will basically sign anything that comes to his desk. so, i don't think the president fundamentally, as long as he gets a bill on his desk where he can stand up. he said he repealed obamacare when he didn't repeal obamacare. he repealed an element of it.
>> a big element. >> a big element. >> i'm saying the president's ability to say whatever he wants, he'll sign a bill. the fundamental question is, why are the republicans drawing a line between one compassion for young people here who have done nothing of their own, come here, who serve, and are going to serve in a great capacity in order to put a wall, that the president says immigration into our country has slowed to a trickle on our southern border. this is what i don't understand. >> what's the answer? >> he's not asking for a wall for this, as sara -- let me go beyond that. as sara said, even barack obama and hillary clinton have voted for fences. we can use all kinds of synonyms. the idea is we want to secure the southern border. he wants to do that with funding for as much of a wall as he can. he wants to end the family chain migration. wants to end the diversity lottery. which, by the way is popular with a lot of people in h this country who are struggling to make ends meet. want to find good jobs for their families.
this is actually an issue. this broader question of how we have our immigration system, that we need to have as country. i would like to see us do that. if the democrats are going to be dumb enough to say they're going to be #resistance all year. and even these democrats up in the red states, if they decide to never work on donald trump on any issue is that is a political risk that is not wise to take. >> the president has admitted he's willing to shut down the government if he doesn't get the $18 billion to fund his wall. the president has said he's holding daca hostage to get what he wants on immigration. why can't we just agree, since there is broad bipartisan consensus, across the country and washington, to have a daca fix. >> because that created the tea party movement. when the republicans go along with what the democrats want -- >> that is not what created the tea party movement. >> it's not -- >> first of all, i'm going to pull the applause there. i found it very creative for you the say the president doesn't
want a wall and then you just said, we're not going to call it a wall. but again, that was cute. a nice try. >> he wants a wall plus. >> at the end of the day, here's what you're facing. this president pushed the appropriate racial buttons in terms of immigration. so what you have here is, he has no choice but to hold it hostage. because he understands who he's appealing to by pushing those buttons when it comes to immigration. what you have on the other side, though, is individuals, for instance, this caretaker for a paraplegic, the only person who is going to be sent out of the country. look, that's a sad story. you have people out there who are taxpaying citizens. who have contributed to the country when it comes to daca. you can actually do both things. they don't want to do that because it serves a very calculated political interest. >> does the president have to abandon his base on this issue? >> no, not at all. this is not that complicated. you have republicans who want stronger border security.
and some democrats who have agreed in the past that we need it. you have almost everyone who agrees that daca needs to be fixed. and you have to avoid a government shutdown. so if these leaders can get in a room and figure this out. >> it's called legislating. it's really not that complicating. why is it a hostage for republicans to take? >> exactly. >> and not a hostage for the democrats to take? >> the bipartisan congressional process of the people who care about these issues was working until a set of poison pills were set up to the hill by the white house, authored by steven miller, of their demands on immigration before there was a daca deal. if the white house could stay out of it, i think a deal can be done. as most things are happening in washington, if they stay out of it, the system will work. >> the reality is i know matt likes to create a world that is sort of fictional rah-rah.
>> quit saying i'm a liar. >> i have never called you a liar. >> you did. >> i said if you drank truth serum, you would admit -- >> a clever way of calling me a liar. >> -- fundamentally, the republicans have passed nothing that is popular with the majority of america in 2017. i expect them to pass nothing that is popular with the majority of america in 2018. the president is inherently the most unpopular president at this point of any president we have had. the democrats have a generic ballot lead larger than any time in the last 20 years. so we're seeing a situation that this huge wave is coming. i don't see a president who has only governed to base to change that in the course of the next few months. >> this conversation has to continue off the air. we're about to hit the computer. we're out of time. we'll be right back.
and now, we honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice. in the month of december, two service members died overseas supporting operations in iraq and afghanistan. ♪ that is all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news" tonight. i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
up next, what happened when two people tried to stop suspected burglars in fremont this morning? and another bold claim from president trump. why he says he's the reason south and north korea are speaking again. good sunday morning to you. from our sutro tower camera, it's 46 degrees in san francisco, and look at that fog. a lot of rain to talk ab
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